Thursday, June 16, 2016

Summer Safety

With summer here, dog owners are anxious to get their dogs and themselves off the couch!  As tempting as it may be to take Fido with you everywhere this summer, remember that the sweltering heat can take its toll. Here are a few things to remember:

#1: Dogs can easily suffer from heat stroke

Dogs can quickly come down with a bad case of heat stroke. Our canine counterparts have very limited ability to cool off by sweating. Dogs have sweat glands on their foot pads. Their main mechanism for cooling down is panting and it is very insufficient at lowering body temperature on a very hot day.

#2: Keep your dog hydrated

Whether your dog is playing in the back yard or you’re out and about at the local the park, make sure you have a supply of water on hand. At home, make sure the water bowl is in the shade.  Keep the pet water cool by using half ice/half cold water. If you’re out and about with your pet, carry an extra bottle of water with you and a bowl for your dog.

#3: Walk your dog during cooler hours

In the hot summer, consider walking your dog either very early morning at first light or late evening when the sun is least harsh. Watch for hot pavement.  Press the back of your hand to the pavement to see how hot it is.  Dog pads can burn quite easily. Walk your dog on grass or dirt to avoid burning paws on the hot pavement.  Walk in the shade if you can.

#4: Protect your dog from ticks and fleas

As summer nears, it’s important to provide your pet with proper treatment for the prevention of  ticks and fleas. There are many recipes for natural repellents on the internet you can spritz on you and your dog before going out on walks.

#5: Avoid crowded events

While it might seem like a good idea to bring your dog along to summer events, your dog is almost always better off at home. The heat, crowds and general excitement can be physically and emotionally taxing for your dog -  causing anxiety and stress.

#6: Do your homework before shaving your dog

In the summer, many dog owners believe it’s best to shave their dogs coat very short.  If your dog is a swimmer, gets easily matted, tends to shed a lot, you might want to consider a summer cut. Reasons not to shave your dog include that their coat provides protection from the sun and insect bites. Some dogs feel vulnerable without their coats. Always check with your vet before shaving your dog in the summer.

#7: Dogs need protection from the sun

Overexposure to UV rays can give your dog a sunburn, peeling skin, painful inflammation and can increase the risk of skin cancer. Because dogs have fur, people may assume they are not in danger of getting sunburn.  While fur provides a level of sun protection, the nose, ear tips, skin around the lips and other areas lacking pigmentation are susceptible to sun burn. There are specially formulated sunscreens available for dogs. Check with your vet to find the best solution for your dog.

#8: Not all dogs are born swimmers

Despite popular belief, not all dogs were born to swim! Theoretically speaking, all dogs can swim, however, some breeds such as Bulldogs, Basset hounds and Pugs have more difficulty. When encouraging your dog to swim it’s important to know his/her physical ability, stamina, body shape,  and breathing ability. Fit your dog with a personal flotation device (life jacket) if you are not sure about his/her swimming ability. Life jackets made for dogs keep their head above water.

#9: Exercise good water safety for your dog

First, make sure your dog knows how to swim. Many water dangers are less about the dog and more about the place they are swimming.  Be aware of your surroundings, making sure your dog is wearing a flotation device and discourge drinking the water in the area s/he is swimming.  Some dogs get seasick too so be prepared.  Make sure your dog has proper identification and is microchipped.

#10: Never leave your dog in the car

NEVER leave your dog in your vehicle no matter how brief the amount of time. Cars heat up quickly even when it’s relatively mild outside, even with the windows open. On a summer day temperatures inside a vehicle can climb in minutes and can spike more than 40 degrees in less than an hour.

By:  Robin Sockness, My Best Buddy Dog Training

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